Alice Shaw

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Better than Nothing

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

At this time of year, it can be hard to see past the shiny, sparkly things that glare out at us from the daily barrage of catalogues clogging up our letter boxes.  “Come and buy me” they whisper seductively and it can be difficult not to get caught up in the hype.  We buy new things, more than we need, expensive trinkets and electronic devices that are out of date before Easter.

In all of the cheerful activity and sugar plums clouding our vision, it can be easy to forget that there are those who will not even have a roof over their heads this Christmas.  The ones that do have somewhere to live may barely be able to keep up with rental payments and therefore presents and elaborate feasts will be sacrificed in order to stay housed.  Children will go without and will wonder why Santa favours those with money, whilst their stockings stay empty. 

Charities world wide call for donations at Christmas time and there are plenty of people around who willingly donate money, gifts and their time to help those less fortunate than themselves, to give those who are disadvantaged at least some hope to get them through what can be an extremely difficult time.  But then there are those who just don’t seem to get it.  Recently, on an episode of the 7pm Project, Carrie Bickmore stated that she had often donated her old underwear to charities, believing that since people are disadvantaged, this donation was “better than nothing”.  I was stunned to hear her make this comment.  Apart from certain fetishists (and that is for another post), I cannot imagine anyone being grateful to receive previously worn underwear, no matter how well laundered it has been.

People who are at a financial disadvantage, struggling to get by, dreading Christmas with all the extra pressures it brings, both through family struggles, gut wrenching loneliness, hunger and the financial strain of trying to buy presents for children, deserve a little dignity.  A person who is struggling, does not need to be “grateful” for items that are unusable, or unwearable.  It is with some sadness I have noted that charity clothing bins are having to state quite clearly on their notices, that people should only donate clean, wearable clothing items.  They state that they do not wish to receive broken items.  When did we get to the point where those who are fortunate enough to have such an excess of anything, that they can dispose of it and still have everything they need, feel it is okay to bestow dirty and unwearable clothes, or indeed second hand underwear on those less fortunate?  Why is it considered an act of charity to give something that will further undermine the dignity of a person who is already struggling, who already feels the stigma of being disadvantaged, who would be grateful for a donation but not something that makes them feel unworthy?

I am not suggesting that people who have everything they need are undeserving of everything their money can buy them, but I am suggesting that when giving to charity, at Christmas or any other time of the year, consider how your donation will make a person feel and not how you feel about it.  Something is not better than nothing.  Something that is wearable, useable, helpful will give something who has nothing not just a new item of clothing or a new pair of shoes, it will give them some dignity and with dignity will come hope.  And hope will go a very long way to making a difference in someone’s life.